Art of Aging: Seniors entering the workforce

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Senior citizens who decide to re-enter the workforce can often find it challenging to land a job, but there is a program to help make the transition easier.

Julia Williams is a dietary aide in the kitchen of the Star Harbor Senior Center in West Philadelphia.

"I had worked in food service at my church, but this is my first job in food service," said Julia.

She'd spent her career as a certified nursing assistant for the school district, but after retiring, Julia said, "I sat at home and did nothing, and it got very boring. I had to get up and get out."

She went to the Mayor's office of Aging, which runs a federally funded program called the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

It helps unemployed older workers update their job skills and build experience.

Julia added, "When they put me in the kitchen there was just like something I always wanted to do. I always wanted my own restaurant or Julia's place or whatever. So, so, this was good."

It's good for the senior center too. The program pairs trainees with non-profits and public agencies that need the extra help.

Marisol Ramos-Allen is the Program Coordinator of the Star Harbor Senior Center

She says, "We only have a staff of 6 people so, with the support of having three or four additional people that we receive under the Mayor's program is definitely a boost."

As trainees, the seniors work about 20 hours a week and are paid minimum wage.

"They're learning new things in the work place that they probably never experienced ever before," said Marisol.

Most, like Julia, are then hired for permanent positions after their training is complete.

"I'm happier, it gives you strength. I'm not thinking about no aches and pains because I'm constantly moving. It makes you feel alive," said Julia.

If you're interested in applying for the program, we've posted the contact information on our Art of Aging section.
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